24 Jul The Royal Baby Cambridge
About wetting baby’s head & more – After many months of waiting, the Royal baby finally has arrived. Many Brits are beyond themselves with excitement and are celebrating the birth of the Royal baby Cambridge by partying or going for a drink.
Celebrating the arrival of a new-born has been a tradition in many cultures over the centuries. The Brits like to ‘wet the baby’s head’, which means celebrating the birth of the baby with a drink. Well, actually just the father. He would go and have a few pints with his friends.
In the Netherlands we have two traditions, actually, I should correct myself here as there is one tradition in the Netherlands and one in Friesland, which is one of the provinces of the Netherlands in the North. Although they are part of the Netherlands, they like to think of themselves as a separate country as they speak a different language. This is the part of the country where I hail from.
To celebrate the arrival of a baby, the Dutch treat their guests on ‘beschuit met muisjes’. This delicacy is Dutch crispbreads with sprinkles. The sprinkles are sugared anise- or caraway seeds.The origins of muisjes go back to the Middle Ages. Blue and white muisjes, now associated with the birth of boys, was introduced in 1994. Pink ones are available too for the girls these days and chocolates with ‘muisjes’ now too, which has become very popular instead of the Dutch crispbreads. In 1938 orange ones were introduced to celebrate the birth of the Crown Princess Beatrix. Orange is the colour of the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau.
In Friesland they also serve ‘beschuit met muisjes’, but in the past, they would ‘wet the baby’s head’ with ‘brandewijn’. Better known as Dutch genever. Every family used to have a ‘brandewijn kom’. This is a beautifully decorated silver bowl (oval shaped and the size of a soup bowl) in which they would serve ‘brandewijn’. Everybody was given a equally stunning decorated silver birth spoon at birth, which they would bring to the house of the new-born and use for taking a spoon full of ‘brandewijn’ out of the ‘brandewijn kom’ to celebrate the birth.
Further afield in the far east, I came across some interesting food traditions to celebrate the birth of a newborn too. The Chinese culture is made up of many different subcultures, about as diverse as the number of dialects that exist in their language. Every culture has its own tradition. The most well-known food tradition is known as the “red egg and ginger” party. Guests will take red paper envelopes filled with Lysee or “lucky money” for the boys and the girls receive expensive jewellery. The parents hand out red-dyed eggs to the guests to take home as a symbol of good luck and renewal of life.
Red egg and ginger parties have their origins in ancient Chinese culture. As in other countries, infant mortality rates in China were quite high prior to the medical advances of the twentieth century. A baby who reached one month of age was likely to survive, and so the event was celebrated. These days the celebration is often held at a fancy restaurant, complete with costumed Chinese performers or even a children’s magician, but the tradition of handing out red-dyed eggs still remains.
Their neighbouring country Japan likes to celebrate the birth of a child with a weaning ceremony or better known as ‘okuizome’. This ceremony traditionally involves a large shared meal prepared by the mother-in-law. The menu varies by region. Traditionally, a small pebble is placed on each plate and the adults symbolically bite down on it to wish the baby a life of abundant food without hunger as well as good strong teeth. Although the father or grandfather may pretend to feed the baby solid food during these festivities, the baby actually is still drinking milk.
Many other cultures such as the Muslim and the Jewish community like to celebrate the birth of a newborn with big parties, which involves a lot of food. Do you know of a food or drink tradition to celebrate the arrival of Royal baby Cambridge? I would love to hear from you and share it here.